Fans of the hardboiled detective, rejoice. Screenwriter-director Scott Frank and actor Liam Neeson, adapting the splendid work of crime novelist Lawrence Block, have brought a great one to the screen in high, bracing style. “A Walk Among The Tombstones” not only does justice to one of Block’s most soulful creations, ex-cop and recovering alcoholic turned very unlicensed private dick (“I do favors for people, and they give me gifts,” is how he puts it) Matthew Scudder, it stages, single-handed, a bracing revival of a kind of genre movie that many of us have been mourning. That is, a crime drama that isn’t all bang-bang and chop-chop. Not that such movies don’t offer their pleasures. Hell, Liam Neeson himself has been a welcome feature in many of them. But fans of the likes of “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight,” not to mention older, more classical fare such as “The Maltese Falcon,” “Murder, My Sweet,” etc., have been feeling pretty starved in the contemporary movie climate. “A Walk Among The Tombstones” provides us a very substantial meal.
The motion picture starts in 1991, portraying a terrible day for still-on-the-constrain Scudder, in a scene of fierce force and amazement. It’s not the principal such scene. In the wake of moving to 1999, and a New York City rather amusingly in the grasp of Y2K freeze, and a calm and dreary Scudder getting reluctantly drawn into an impossible to miss abduct and-kill case, executive Frank keeps the strain at a relentless, tenacious stew even as he’s deliberately fabricating his characters. At the point when things reach boiling point, Frank doesn’t play games. The story spins around a few sickos who’ve been making game of grabbing and recovering the spouses of different street pharmacists and traffickers in the city. Since their prey are identified with culprits, acquiring the police is a vexed choice for the casualties; and in light of the fact that the awful folks are sickos, once they get their plunder they don’t restore the casualty. It’s a significantly more wound operation than what I’m portraying, and Frank delineates sufficiently only of the subtle elements to get the watcher’s stomach agitating, and furthermore to comprehend the outrage and resentment developing in the ever-stoic Scudder, whose individual damnation must be kept under control by not capitulating to those feelings. As the hijackers raise the stakes and make their most recent casualty a 13-year-old little girl of a medication boss… well, the entire thing is probably going to cause dropped jaws and perhaps segregated motion picture theater armrests.
This isn’t the first run through Scudder’s been depicted on screen: that was in the unfortunately illegitimate 1986 Oliver Stone/Hal Ashby coordinated effort “Eight Million Ways To Die.” “Gravestones” reboots the character and gets him right. Not simply physically. Neeson catches Scudder’s strength, insight, world-exhaustion, yet in addition his humankind and funniness. Doing research for the case, Scudder experiences an African-American destitute adolescent named T.J. (pleasantly played by Brian “Astro” Bradley), with whom he strikes up an improbable in any case influencing kinship, making the child a sidekick of sorts; the motion picture portrays their liking in a way that is absolutely unpatronizing and persuading. Blunt likewise goes out on a limb in the film’s climactic standoff scene; rather than arranging a clear activity set piece, he amazes the occasions and intercuts them with a characterizing scene in Scudder’s advancement as a man. The motion picture contemplates how Scudder’s most profound sense of being will hold up under introduction to an especially great case of insidiousness. Motion pictures, for example, “Taken,” as occupying as they can be, don’t approach the watcher to be worried for the spirit of the hero. “A Walk Among The Tombstones” does, thus other than being an explosive thriller, it gives something not deficient as an additional.